With the government shutdown only a few weeks behind us and the Obamacare website as twitchy as an excited puppy, it’s refreshing to see the Senate getting something positive done. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against LGBT individuals.
ENDA has been a long time coming and is a necessary change to workplace practices. Regardless of our political or religious beliefs, there seems to us to be no logical, sane reason why employers should discriminate against those who identify or are believed to be LGBT. It’s not illegal to identify as LGBT. It doesn’t negatively hinder an employee’s work any more than race or gender does. Frankly, discriminating against an employee for identifying as LGBT and solely for that reason seems incredibly narrow-minded and hurtful. It enforces that negative belief of “them vs. us” and all the differences that entails, even though the only difference is one shared among every individual.
For those who staunchly stand by their religious beliefs, ENDA allows approved religious institutions to be exempt from the bill with a legal promise for no retaliation. Considering the decades-long push for separation of church and state, this sounds fair to us. It’s a compromise that many may see as a cop-out, but we encourage leading by example — tolerate them, and maybe someday, they will tolerate you. At the very least, you’ll be on the higher moral ground. With this particular amendment acknowledging and addressing religious beliefs, there’s little excuse not to support the bill.
Some Republicans jumped the lines to side with their Democrat counterparts, including John McCain, who we’re quite sure is as done with the extremists in the Republican party as much of the U.S. is. That bipartisan vote in and of itself is a step in the right direction for a government that’s been deadlocked by party feuds at every turn. We can’t tell you how excited we were to see Republican names on the ballot, although we’re sure that the way things are going, those line-jumpers will probably not be very popular with the rest of their party (if they aren’t unpopular already).
Meanwhile, we’re not entirely sure how well ENDA will hold up in the House, although it looks like opinion is flip-flopping on the outcome. We at The Signpost encourage you to contact your representatives and encourage them to support a vote on the bill, which may not even happen in the House unless the controlling party acknowledges it as a potential boost for a presidential candidate, which is sad, as it will be less about breaking down unjust barriers and more about political gain. This is one time when the parties particularly need to get over their proposed differences and learn to get along.
We as a country still have a long way to go for equality in the LGBT arena. It’s still not uncommon to hear of a beating or even a murder relating to LGBT discrimination. The change in perception needs to start somewhere, even if it has to be forced through by law. The only difference separating good employees from bad employees is how well they work, not which option they select under sexual preferences.